Nick, Natalie, sink

Heart's Ease

Fall 2010
Last modified November 27, 2010

by Amy R.

G  Please see the endnote for disclaimers, credits, and all that good stuff.  This fanfiction is a tribute to the television series Forever Knight.

Nick coughed once and pressed a hand to his chest.

“Are you all right?” Tracy asked from the Caddy’s passenger seat.

“Not all,” Nick admitted, returning both hands to the wheel.  He tried again — and failed again — to take a deep breath.  He had known, intellectually, that mortality would be full of aches and pains, but eight centuries in a body impervious to strain had left him unprepared for the practical reality.  Natalie may have been right that it was too soon after his transition from vampirism to return to work.  Nick looked along the curb for an open parking space.  “Maybe you should take a turn driving.”

“Okay, now I’m concerned.”  Tracy leaned over and reached out, as if preparing to take the wheel of his treasured car right then — and checked his forehead for a fever.  “What exactly are you feeling, here, Nick?”

“I’m sure it’s nothing.”  Finding a sufficiently large space conveniently under a streetlamp, he began the cascade of little adjustments to parallel-park his massive vehicle.  It seemed more awkward than usual.  “Just a little trouble breathing, and some pressure in my chest — like something I ate disagrees with me?”

Recognition flashed across her face.  “How long has this been going on?  Five minutes?”  Not even waiting for his nod, she grabbed the radio.  “Dispatch, this is 81Kilo.  Alert Mercy Hospital that I’m bringing in my partner with possible heart-attack symptoms.  Now.  Vetter out.”

Tracy’s swift-moving lecture on the warning signs of cardiac arrest and the idiocy of people who supposed themselves invulnerable was not, Nick knew, inspired solely by him.

- ~ -

“Tracy just overreacted,” Nick was all set to tell Natalie when she walked into the hospital waiting room.  He watched for her from where he sat in an uncomfortable plastic chair, several places from the few others present on what looked like a quiet night.  Nick knew how she worried that an unexpected complication of his cure could bring his past eight centuries crashing down on a fragile mortal body not designed to bear them.  He would say, reassuringly, “You remember about Tracy’s Uncle Sonny?  And then last month her dad...”

But it was not Natalie who walked in.

“Hello, Nicholas.”  Above his severe black suit, Lacroix’s face looked even more pale than usual.  “I am relieved to find you still among the temporarily living, given that you have repeatedly refused to rejoin the eternally living.”

Nick blinked.  “What are you doing here?”

“Police-band radio.  An accommodation.”  The ancient vampire waved away the question, as if it were ridiculous of Nick to have thought that cutting the threads of their metaphysical connection, severing Lacroix’s access his mind, would change the stalking.  “So, has this regrettable incident brought you to your senses, inspired you to return to the fold, be born again to the night, accept your destiny, etcetera?”

Nick felt the corners of his lips quirk up.

“I thought not.”  Lacroix took an adjoining chair and dropped his voice almost too low for Nick’s mortal ears to hear.  “What will it take to show you your error, Nicholas?  This manner of existence you have chosen is all too brief, your body dying cell by cell every moment.  Even as we sit here, the strength and beauty that I had preserved undiminished through the ages is in decay!”

Nick leaned back.  “Art can perch unchanged on a single moment.  Life moves on, by definition.”

“Neither the life nor the artwork would remain if that cardiac arrest had carried you off.”

“I didn’t have a heart attack.”  Nick coughed.  And then he coughed again, getting the hang of it.


“Yeah, uh, the leading indications of a heart attack — chest discomfort, abdominal pain, shortness of breath — sound remarkably like the symptoms of an incipient head cold combined with heartburn from too much souvlaki.”  That is, Nick admitted to himself, if the patient is having his first congestion and indigestion in eight centuries and doesn’t know better.  The emergency room doctor had congratulated Tracy for reacting correctly to those symptoms, emphasizing that getting treatment quickly improves chances of survival and minimizes damage to the heart.  The same doctor had then grinned fit to burst when pronouncing Nick’s diagnosis.

“A head cold?” Lacroix repeated.

“And heartburn.”  Nick coughed some more.  This would take longer to live down than that time he had stopped a city bus.  Suddenly, he missed Schanke as if that had been only yesterday; some things, mortality had not changed at all.

Lacroix rose, shaking his head.  Nick watched eyebrows lower and lips smooth as his former master’s dismay subsided.  Lacroix crossed his arms.  “My offer remains open.”

Nick met searching eyes.  This much, he could give.  “I’ll never doubt it.”

- ~ -

Sitting on his closed toilet seat, Nick stared at the pharmacopeia Natalie had just poured out of a shopping bag into his sink.  Over-the-counter decongestants, analgesics, antacids, antiseptics, moisturizers — goodness knew what all.  After discussing the indications, dosage and interactions of each one, Natalie packed it into his now-overflowing medicine cabinet, which previously had held just his shaving supplies, soap and some things Janette had given him over a year ago.

“Are you with me, Nick?”  Natalie waved her hand in front of his face.

“Yeah, sorry,” he shook his head and refocused on his friend.  She had recently let her hair return to its natural russet curls; he couldn’t remember whether he had told her yet that he liked it this way.  “I just zoned out a little.  I’m feeling more tired than usual.”

“The orange decongestants are the ones with the caffeine in them,” she repeated.  “I don’t want you overmedicating, but you can take those before work tonight if you really need them.”

“Work tonight?”  He coughed.

“You aren’t going to spend a sick day on a little cold, are you?”

“I have plenty of sick days to spend.”

“Yeah, well, from now on, you’re going to need those for their intended purpose. This is just the beginning!”  Natalie smiled; Nick wondered whether it might not be a smirk.  “Which reminds me: we have got to get you this year’s flu shot — well, as soon as we finish dosing you for every childhood disease that no doubt mutated between when you were a kid and when they discovered germs.”

Nick knew that teaching him how to take care of himself as a twentieth-century human was Natalie’s way of taking care of him herself, an expression of the long habit of their partnership in his search for a cure.  And he knew that he had shrugged off much worse illnesses as a matter of course before Lacroix converted him, so long ago.  But right now, he was tired, everything ached, and he couldn’t breathe through his nose.  He didn’t even try to resist a petulant, “You’re not very reassuring.”

Natalie’s expression softened, and she kissed his forehead.  He knew his heart was in his eyes when he looked up at her.  “C’mon,” she held out her hand.  “I brought chicken soup.”




  • Mr. Parriot and Mr. Cohen created Forever Knight.  The Sony Corporation owns it.  I intend no infringement.  Please support all authorized Forever Knight endeavors!  (Buy what they sell so that they can make more.)
  • Naturally, all characters and situations depicted here are entirely fictional.  (Vampires don't exist. The leading signs of heart attack do, though.)

Citations and Credits

  • Canon: This story diverges from canon sometime after "Let No Man Tear Asunder," where we learn that Tracy's Uncle Sonny needs a heart transplant.  Nick wrangling a city bus is in "Fatal Mistake."  The metaphysical connection between Lacroix and Nick is most explicit in "Killer Instinct."  Nick's rather bare bathroom is seen in "Father Figure."
  • Inspiration: Thanks to April for the prompt.  She requested a story with Nick, Natalie and Lacroix in which "newly-mortal!Nick has his first cold in 800 years."
  • Beta-Reader:My thanks to Valerie for checking the story, and for advocating for posting in this size and shape, rather than stretching it over a larger frame.  (The remaining errors are of course all my own.)
  • Timestamps & No Archiving: This story was posted on April's blog as a "comment-fic" in late September 2010, and posted to fkfic-l on November 25, 2010.  You're welcome to link to it on my fansite.  Please don't lift it and put it elsewhere.
  • Thank you for reading! Constructive criticism is welcome. (Though sometimes it takes a while, I always answer each comment I receive about a story.) Again, thanks!